And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been both avoiding and wanting to read And Another Thing ever since they announced it. A new Hitchhiker's Guide novel? Without Douglas Adams? Impossible. Blasphemy. But then again, Mostly Harmless left such a bad taste in the mouths of Adams' fans that I really did want one more. Also, I wrote my own Hitchhiker's Guide novel and I think it turned out pretty well. So the idea of an officially sanctioned sequel held appeal. I finally bit the bullet and bought Another, and was mostly happy with it. Is it the novel I would have written? No. Is it the novel Adams would have written? No. Then again, even Mostly Harmless felt like an imitation of Adams, so even the great one had lost it. Colfer manages to imitate the style of Adams while putting his own spin on it. For the most part, I was able to suspend my skepticism and imagine I was reading a true novel by Adams.
First question I needed answered was how to continue the story, because (spoiler alert) all the major characters died in Mostly Harmless, and the Earth in all possible realities was destroyed as well. Kind of a dead end. Another did come up with an explanation for how the characters survived utter destruction. I won't spoil it, but I have to admit, the explanation was a little disappointing. Still, we move on.
And Another Thing revolves around fan favorite Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged and his quest to be killed by the Thunder God Thor. The story is convoluted, which is a good thing, since Adams was the king of complicated plotting. But where Adams always managed to take the most bizarre elements and string them into an epic journey, Another Thing ultimately has no real theme.
One of the great skills of Adams was to take story elements that felt completely different and string them into a coherent narrative. He took you on a journey to the far and strange reaches of the galaxy with characters on quests to answer fundamental questions like the meaning of life or stop the extermination of the galaxy.
Colfer didn't do that. The story felt forced and unfocused. None of the main characters have any real stake in the quest. I found myself asking several times, "why are they doing this again?"
But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the book. The characters are well written and familiar. Some didn't get enough time like Arthur. New characters like Left Brain, Zaphod's amputated and superintelligent head, felt at home. And of course, the big question is, "is Another Thing funny? The answer is absolutely yes. A scene where the Lovecraftian God Cthulhu applied for a job had me laughing out loud, literally not figuratively.
The book isn't perfect, but it's truly a worthy successor. Adams would have been proud.
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